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State v. Swafford

Supreme Court of Kansas

June 2, 2017

State of Kansas, Appellee,
v.
Artis Swafford, Appellant.

         SYLLABUS BY THE COURT

         1. The time limit within which to appeal a ruling on a motion to correct an illegal sentence, filed pursuant to K.S.A. 22-3504, is 30 days after the entry of judgment.

         2. A motion for additional findings of fact under K.S.A. 2016 Supp. 60-252 or a motion for a rehearing under K.S.A. 2016 Supp. 60-259 is timely if filed within 28 days of judgment, and the effect of such timely filed motions is to toll the time for filing an appeal.

         3. When the sentencing judge announces that the current sentence is to run consecutive to a sentence previously imposed in a case that the judge identifies by case number only and the record reflects that there is only one case in the defendant's criminal history assigned that announced case number, the resulting sentence is not ambiguous.

         4. A sentencing judge is authorized to order the current sentence to be served consecutive to a previously imposed underlying misdemeanor sentence upon which the defendant is on probation at the time of sentencing notwithstanding that a revocation proceeding in the misdemeanor case has not been completed.

         5. Without running afoul of due process, a district court has the authority to summarily deny a K.S.A. 22-3504 motion to correct an illegal sentence without a hearing and may summarily assess the adequacy of its findings of fact and conclusions of law memorializing the summary denial without a hearing.

         Appeal from Saline District Court; Jared B. Johnson, judge. Opinion filed June 2, 2017. Affirmed.

          Gerald E. Wells, of Jerry Wells Attorney-at-Law, of Lawrence, was on the brief for appellant.

          Ellen Hurst Mitchell, county attorney, and Derek Schmidt, attorney general, were on the brief for appellee.

          Johnson, J.

         Artis Swafford appeals the Saline County District Court's summary dismissal of his fourth K.S.A. 22-3504 motion to correct an illegal sentence. Swafford was sentenced in 1993 to life in prison for felony murder and a term of 15 years to life for aggravated robbery; the sentences were ordered to be served consecutively to each other and to sentences imposed in separate cases in Saline and Geary counties. Swafford contends that the sentencing judge's pronouncement of consecutive sentencing was ambiguous and that the judge was prohibited from ordering the sentence in this case to be served consecutively to the underlying sentence in Geary County because a probation revocation proceeding was still pending in that county. Swafford's arguments are unavailing; the district court is affirmed.

         Factual and Procedural Overview

         Swafford and two others brutally beat and killed a motel night clerk during an armed robbery. In 1993, a jury convicted Swafford of felony murder and aggravated robbery. District Judge Daniel Hebert imposed a life sentence for the felony murder, and 15 years to life for the aggravated robbery. See K.S.A. 21-4501(a) (Ensley 1988) (life sentence for Class A felonies); K.S.A. 21-4501(b) (Ensley 1988) (sentencing range for Class B felonies). The district court ordered the sentences to be served consecutive to each other and consecutive to sentences previously imposed in separate cases in Saline and Geary counties. Additionally, Judge Hebert recommended that authorities defer consideration of parole beyond Swafford's initial date of parole eligibility.

         Swafford's convictions and sentences were affirmed on direct appeal. State v. Swafford, 257 Kan. 1023, 897 P.2d 1027 (1995). Since then, Swafford has been very litigious, including the filing of K.S.A. 22-3504 motions to correct an illegal sentence in 2001, 2006, and 2010, all of which were denied. Swafford was unable on appeal to obtain relief from those ...


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